The Province of British Columbia’s Supreme Court has ruled to maintain the Automatic Roadside Prohibition program, but that doesn’t mean people won’t continue to challenge BC’s impaired driving laws. After hearing of the ruling, lawyers have said that it’s highly likely people will continue with challenges because of the belief that breathalyzers used on the roadside are unreliable.
Although the Supreme Court said that, under automatic roadside prohibition, police can continue to seize vehicles and suspend drivers license if a driver fails a breathalyzer test, they also said that there has to be a way for a driver to challenge a failed test.
They may have made this declaration due to information released in documents obtained due to a freedom of information request. It was found that the RCMP in both Tofino and Vernon had calibrated their breathalyzers with the wrong gas. Due to that error, 51 drivers who blew a fail or warn range had their automatic roadside suspensions reversed.
That’s prompted concern from local lawyers who believe there is a risk of unreliable readings, and they wonder if people are getting punished when they aren’t actually impaired.
In standing behind immediate roadside suspensions, the province believes they continue to save police resources because police can process many offenders at a time. Prior to automatic roadside suspensions, police were required to take the driver to the police station and wait for a court date. The Attorney General, Suzanne Anton, has also said that these roadside suspensions have come into law, 260 lives have been saved and 19,000 drivers have been stopped from drinking and driving.
The bottom line is this: as long as people are drinking and driving in British Columbia, there will be roadside prohibitions. And as long as there are roadside prohibitions, people who made the decision to drink and drive will attempt to challenge them.